“There are two ways to live. You can live as if nothing is a miracle; you can live as if everything is a miracle.” – Albert Einstein
I had a great day yesterday. I went to a workshop by Anat Baniel. As a clinical psychologist, dancer and associate of Moshe Feldenkrais, she has developed her own method that truly works with the plasticity of the brain and the resilience of the human body and mind. While in this market focused world, I find it important to look at everyone’s methods or proposed techniques with a balanced (perhaps guarded) perspective. I do believe in “First, do no harm.
I really appreciated Anat’s simplicity, integrity. and common sense. It weaves beautifully into what I already have observed in my years of clinical experience and into my approach as an integrative family physician. She inspired me to offer further my LIVE IT approach to health and wellness (Learn, Incorporate, Vitalize, Exercise, Imagine, Think) as it also utilizes the learning power of the brain and the body. We need to nourish our bodies and our brains.
Anat’s described her approach as being somewhat more of a generalist than a specialist for just one “problem.” This also resonated with me. She helps children with special needs, high performers, people with chronic pain, and more. I was moved by a video clip she showed of a mom of a special needs child sharing some of her journey. She clearly illustrated the “downer” it was to go visit the neurologist with her son as being the office of limitations, while working in the techniques taught by Anat Baniel was the center for possibilities.
This hit home for me because in my allopathic medical training we are so trained to be objective and evidence-based that we often don’t leave room for possibility or being outside the box. That strikes such an irony as our objective, evidence-based research is now supporting the possibilities. I think of how easy it is to demonize so much in life: our diets, our medicine, and more. It doesn’t leave much room for optimism. What does that do to our brains?
I celebrate that my medical practice is an office for possibilities!
Anat described the brain as an information “Cookie Monster.” Since they served cookies for dessert at our lunch, I know someone in the audience was cringing at the analogy because they see “cookies” as sugar-filled demons for the brain. But Anat focused on the information that we give our brains and that often in trying harder we make the neural pathways more inhibited. We can’t try harder for something we can’t do! You don’t get people to do what they can’t. But in fact our education and health care systems often encourage this and set us up for failure and frustration.
Yoda was right, “There is no try, only do.”
Habits are hard to change and it feels risky to do so. Change requires deliberate attention in all aspects of our wellness. This resonated with my father’s favorite saying. “If you always think the way you always go, you’ll always get what you always got.” As Anat said, we need to pay attention to what is new and what we want to change and myelinate it. It does not need to be painful. In fact, if there is pain, we naturally avoid those pathways. The job of the brain is to create order out of disorder, sense out of nonsense. The brain needs new information to do something new. We will change those neural pathways if we use this approach.
So, Anat Baniel has developed her Nine Essentials (like my LIVE IT) to keep the focus on what is important and shape changes in the brain:
- Movement with attention.
- Slow (Fast is where patterns already deeply engrained & slow turns learning switch on.)
- Variation (Demonstrates her method’s perception of differences.)
- Subtlety (Increases sensitivity, reduces force.)
- Enthusiasm (Emotional amplification Celebrate what you would consider failure)
- Flexible goals
- The Learning Switch
I like her message. Blended within the integrative medical world I see (using nutrition, mindfulness, medical support when needed, and spirituality), her essentials beautifully connect the body with the mind. She reminded me to embrace the miracles all around me every day. I invite you to do the same.